This property is part of our Historic Hotels series, which features Harper hotels and resorts that began as private homes to the world’s famous—industry pioneers, authors, real estate magnates and, yes, even a dictator.
Housed within two Ottoman mansions, in the ancient city of Acre (or Akko, as it is known in modern Israel), The Efendi Hotel has been a labor of love for proprietor Uri Jeremias, one of the country’s best-known chefs, with the mansions’ reconstruction taking eight years. Built on top of Byzantine and Crusader structures, The Efendi Hotel has an extraordinary atmosphere of history and heritage. The ground floor, which currently serves as the hotel’s kitchen and dining room, is a relic of the early Ottoman era and was once the site of a church. Spaces such as the original Turkish bath have been restored and reactivated for modern-day guests who today can enjoy a traditional hammam. Through every layer, stories of the structure’s past proprietors whisper through the walls, their lives as merchants, businessmen and politicos each disparate yet inherently woven together. The layered and multicultural heritage extends to the staff. “This reflects very much what we are trying to do here,” says Jeremias, who proudly employs both Jewish and Arab families to preserve this haven of history.
A legacy of music also prevails at Efendi thanks to Sodki Shukry and his son, Samir, a famous Israeli musician. While Sodki lived in the home, he welcomed students for Arabic music lessons and taught them to play a variety of instruments, from the violin to drums and the oud, a pear-shaped instrument similar to a mandolin. “He raised quite a generation of musicians,” says Jeremias.